Melodic Improvisation On One String

9 Sep 2021

Melodic Guitar Improvisation On One String

Have you ever felt stuck during improvisation? Have you been playing the same old licks over and over again?
Feeling that your fingers are doing the thinking/playing for you?

Well, in this lesson I have a very interesting topic for you and it might just be the thing that will help you leave the cliché licks behind!

Melodic Soloing On One String

This Topic is very interesting for me as well, it is something I'm very passionate about it's about how to perform a guitar solo on one string. It is very melodic and we always focus on this topic with our guitar students at guitarelevation.com and I hope to convey some of the stuff to you!
 
Soloing over one string is an old concept. I remember hearing it while I was listening to Andy Timmons back in the days and it just blew my mind! There was something different and unique about it!
 
You might think why soloing on one string? Well, there are many advantages:
 
- The most important reason is that it forces you to be more thoughtful about what you are playing on guitar. It takes you from the box shapes and the vertical stuff into playing horizontally.
 
- It also helps you break free from playing those cliché licks and being in a sort of "autopilot" mode, so you think more about what you will be playing and translate the voice and melodies in your head, which will promote your aural skills as well.
Those were the primary reasons, but it will also push you to work on your technique and phrasing even more as you have to be expressive more with only just a couple of notes. You become more expressive by adding hammer-on, pull-offs, bends, tapping, and many more techniques. Therefore, you need to be working on your technique as well!

So, let's get to it! We are going to start with honing the basics and build up towards more advanced stuff so please stick till the end of the lesson even if it sounds simple at first as it will surely benefit you.
Backing Track in A minor (Am)

For the purpose of this lesson, we are going to work in A minor.
So, we created a track for Today's lesson in A Minor, check in the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPuMvpGbgHI&ab_channel=GuitarElevation-GuitarLessons

The Minor Scale On One String

The first step we are going to do is get familiar with the minor scale over one string:
The first step we are going to do is get familiar with the minor scale over one string:

We start from the A note on the G string, which is on fret 2, my middle finger will play fret 4 and then my pinky plays fret 5.
Then I jump to fret 7 and I apply the same fingering for fret 7,9,12 and then I jump to step fret 12 and 14. By doing this we would have played/completed one octave of the A minor scale.

Check the video lesson at @3:25 for a visual demonstration and a more comprehensive tutorial.
 
If we want to play the A minor scale on a different string, for example, the B string. We need to find the root note (the A note). The A note will be on Fret number 10 but, I might not have enough room on the fretboard to ascend. But I have more room to descend the fretboard, which is why you need to practice ascending and descending the minor scale on one string. While descending, visualize that your A note which is on Fret 10 as the last note of the scale, and descend from there. Practice the above until you get comfortable with it and join me in playing over the backing track.

Mastering the Minor Scale on One String

Now that you have learned the scale and got comfortable with it, we need to step out of our comfort zone a bit, by playing starting from any note of the scale but the root note. For example, I can start from Fret 7 which is a D note on the G string. I'm going to demonstrate this over the track. Pick up your guitar and follow along:
 
Timestamp @6:47

Adding Technique to the Scale

Now that we have mastered the scale, we need to add more techniques to be more expressive. The first thing we are going to add is slides! So, I am going to play over the track. Pick up your guitar and let's work together:
 
@7:56
This is starting to sound very interesting and very melodic! We are going to add other techniques which are the String bending techniques. You can either do pre-bends or just bend release. If we combine the bending techniques with the other stuff we have been practicing, like the slides and hammer on pull off we are going to get even better phrases:
 

@8:55

Developing a theme using the minor scale on one string

After working on our phrasing, we need to develop a melody or a theme. We are going to work on this together! We will focus on developing this theme on one string and also on more than just one string. For example, if I play a phrase on the first string the second phrase will have to be on the B string. Let's Go:
 
@10:16

 

This is already turning into an amazing solo! Keep pushing outside your comfort zone and play on multiple strings. It's going to push your boundaries and comfort zone, the more we do that the more we get better at guitar:

@11:41

Final Words on Soloing on One String

Needless to say. You can do the same steps on the major scale on one string, pentatonic major or minor, or any other scale, or mode on one string.

My last piece of advice! Dip your toes in the water, take chances, do trials and errors. The more you do that, the more comfortable you will be and the better you will become at guitar.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and that it helped you elevate your guitar playing!

You can check even more training material and lessons on Guitar Elevation:
https://www.jhguitarschool.com/

Do not forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Many more lessons will be available:
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Author: Jack Haddad
Jack Haddad is an expert Guitar educator and teacher and has been helping guitarists, through his innovative methods, get incredible results on the guitar, whether they want to jam with friends or rock out on the big stage.

You can find out more about Jack Haddad's teaching here: https://www.jhguitarschool.com
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